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Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You've Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong Hardcover – June 7, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover; First Printing edition (June 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591845505
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591845508
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #319,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Refreshing, at a time when so many take the failure of capitalism for granted, to read a bravado defense of the greatest force for wealth creation that the world has ever known."
—BRIAN CARNEY The Wall Street Journal

“Edward Conard’s book presents the most cogent and persuasive analysis of the financial crisis to date. It is deeper and likely more accurate than what we have seen so far from journalists, academics, and particularly former government officials.”
—ANDREI SHLEIFER, 1999 John Bates Clark Medal winner; Former Editor, Quarterly Journal of Economics; Professor of Economics, Harvard University

“Edward Conard’s keen business insight and sharp eye on economic forces explain structural strengths and weaknesses of the American economy. While some of his proposed solutions are controversial, the U.S. economy can recover its mojo if policy makers understand Conard’s diagnosis.”
—GLENN HUBBARD, Dean, Graduate School of Business, Columbia University; Former Chairman, President’s Council of Economic Advisers
“Edward Conard provides a provocative interpretation of the causes of the global financial crisis and the policies needed to return to rapid growth. Whether you agree or not, this analysis is well worth reading.”
 —NOURIEL ROUBINI, Chairman, Roubini Global Economics
Unintended Consequences will be the most talked about economic book in 2012. When Ed Conard points the spotlight at recent economic history, his uncanny ability to cut through the confusion provides something totally unexpected: a fresh, nonpartisan perspective on what is right and wrong with America.”
—KEVIN HASSETT, Senior Fellow and Director of Economic Policy, American Enterprise Institute
“Edward Conard has written a provocative and important book about the economy that challenges conventional wisdom about the financial crisis, the trade deficit, government policy, and the path to prosperity. I hope policy makers and business leaders will pay close attention to Conard’s framework.”
—WILLIAM A. SAHLMAN, Senior Associate Dean, Harvard Business School
“Virtually everyone who reads Unintended Consequences will feel the pain of knowing that we may never get EVERYONE to read it. The clarity of Edward Conard’s explana­tion of where we are, how we got here, and what we do now is profound.”
—BILL BAIN, Founder, Bain & Company
 “There are an amazing number of good ideas and interesting points made in this book. The thinking underlying it, and the obvious depth of understanding of the author, are very impressive.”
—STEVEN LEVITT, Coauthor of Freakonomics; 2004 John Bates Clark Medal Winner
“This is a wonderful book, filled with wisdom by a guy who really knows what he’s talking bout. It is a must reading for both businessmen and politicians.”
—JOHN C. WHITEHEAD, Former Chairman, Goldman Sachs & Co.; Former Deputy Secretary of State

"Conard's contrarian chapter on the benefits of low taxation for the rich is powerfully written. It should be read by anyone who takes for granted the superiority of progressive taxation and has not thought carefully about the trade-offs involved."
The New Republic

About the Author

Edward Conard was a partner at Bain Capital from 1993 to 2007. He served as the head of Bain’s New York office and led the firm’s acquisi­tions of large industrial companies. He sits on several boards of directors including the boards of Waters Corporation and Sensata Technologies. Prior to Bain, Conard worked for Wasserstein Perella, an investment bank that specialized in mergers and acquisitions, and Bain & Company, a management consulting firm, where he headed its industrial practice. He is a graduate of Harvard Business School and the Uni­versity of Michigan.

For more information, visit www.edwardconard.com

Become a fan of Ed on Facebook: www.facebook.com/EdwardConard
Follow Ed on Twitter at @EdwardConard

More About the Authors

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Customer Reviews

Just not 310 pages worth.
Interested customer
As if the founders of those companies might have called off those enterprises if their marginal tax rates had been a little higher.
Gregory Gilman
It is a bit sad that we get just another book saying that more/less is better.)

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Sean Lannan on August 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Edward Conard has good ideas and themes. But, his thought process is scattered and he makes many unsubstantiated statements that do not come together to create a complete model of markets and applied economics. I liked the list facts/myths on the Financial Crisis (2007-9) that Mr. Conrad listed toward the end of his book.

THEME: Capital markets play an important role in underwriting of risk (equities) and distributing risk to risk takers (equity investors and sellers of insurance) that increases productivity and economic growth. Underwriting risk is easier in economies with large, liquid capital markets. Efficiently priced insurance reduces the risk of moral hazard and reduces the risk of panic-driven withdrawals of short-term deposits. Successful risk-taking creates equity which can be consumed or reinvested. Prudent risk-taking is a good for society. Risk properly priced in the market leads to higher employment and greater wealth creation than when risk is mispriced (asset bubbles) which wastes investment dollars and leads to inappropriate decision making on investment/consumption. Society as a whole captures 100% of the benefit of investments: 1) Investors capture about 30% of the total value. 2) Consumers capture 70% of the total value. 3) Government redistributes some of the benefits. As an economy becomes richer, it is willing to take more risks.
Commerce is the salvation of the poor. Prosperity of a society has the greatest impact on the plight of the poor.

THEME: Financial panics and capital withdrawals cannot be accurately predicted. Government guarantees provide effective counter-measures to these unforeseen events. Government guarantees (properly priced) is the cheapest way to insure against panic and financial crises.
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155 of 201 people found the following review helpful By Jackal on June 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a book written by a management consulting kind of guy. One key argument is that the wealthy class adds a lot of value to society because they invest money (as opposed to spend money). I think the author is half-right in this statement because risky equity capital is neither provided by the Fed, the banks nor small investors. However, it is only half-right, because the US economy is to some 70% driven by end-customer demand. If Americans lack purchasing power, new products will not be in much demand. Any thinking person would realise that total income inequality (one guy earning everything) or total income equality (everyone earning the same) would be pretty bad societies. The optimal level of inequality is not much discussed in this book. More seems better for the author. (Just as less seems better for economists Krugman and Stiglitz. It is a bit sad that we get just another book saying that more/less is better.)

The author wants to make an impact as a thought leader, but that will not happen for a couple of reasons:
- He is far too dogmatic in accepting market prices as unbiased. He seems to defend market prices in all situations, even when those markets are not very efficient. So while he rightly praises the highly paid IT or biotech entrepreneur, he also seems to praise all bankers. Somebody bought the subprime debt so some value must have been added, the author thinks. He does not take seriously the fact that some markets are seriously inefficient (e.g. banking salaries, CEO salaries, CDOs). Had he analysed the lack of efficiency in some markets, the book would have been much stronger.
- Sometimes it is more intelligent, both intellectually and impact-wise, to concede a few points.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By auilachs on May 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you want to understand right-wing economics, this is a fair attempt. If you just want the short version, here goes: "we should try to make the pie bigger first, and then try to split the pie fairly second. If you reverse the order, you handicap the biggest producers such that we all end up with less." That is basically the book. I thought the book could have made this point more strongly if it were a little more technical. However, I have a lot of economics texts, so maybe I am not the intended audience. If you are trying to get a scholarship from the young republicans, this would be a great place to start. If you wanted to restructure a nation's socio-economics, this will not help much. If you want something in between (for example, explain to your friends why using economics for social engineering is doomed to fail) this book is reasonably good.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By fitzalling on September 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Conard put an impressive amount of research and intellectual effort into this book. In short, he argues that innovation underwritten by risk capital increases society's wealth available to the upper, middle and lower economic classes. Actions that inhibit risk and innovation inevitably reduce overall U.S. wealth. The Great Recession has caused the U. S. to dial back the use of risk capital, which slows innovation, inhibits employment and reduces prosperity. He examines the arguments on taxation and income redistribution from all sides of the political and economic spectrum. Those of a socialist or liberal political persuasion will probably find the author's arguments unpersuasive and perhaps troubling; political conservatives will probably be more persuaded. He argues, for instance, that much of the wealth that innovation and risk create flow to the middle and lower economic classes. He further argues that excess consumption feeds the egos that drive the risk-taking that leads to innovation that increases the wealth available to society. While I am certain that some political viewpoints will react adversely to these arguments, I think any reader will have to concede that the intellectual breadth of the author's effort deserves respect.

The sections of the book addressing the effects of technical regulatory changes and accounting interpretations on the Great Recession were enlightening. The author explains that these arcane regulatory and accounting matters had an unexpected influence on the market forces in the subprime loan debacle. He also discusses the political and market impulses that led to the Great Recession arising out of the misuse of subprime loans. His discussion of the political impulses behind these loans is fairly well known.
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